Warm Roasted Butternut Squash and Black Lentil Salad with Herbs and Tahini-Yogurt Dressing


Photo by Katie Noble / Styled by Catrine Kelty

Based on two beloved recipes from restaurants in the vibrant London food scene (Ottolenghi and Moro), this recipe is a hearty vegetarian main course, especially nice at lunch. Try topping leftovers with a poached egg for breakfast or making an extra batch of the roasted lentils to scatter into every salad you make, while the dressing doubles as a dip for raw vegetables like thinly sliced radish, wedges of fennel or kohlrabi.

Serves 4

1 large Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups cooked black lentils (from 1 cup raw; simply boil in lightly salted water until just tender, 15–20 minutes)
½ small red onion, very thinly shaved
1 cup whole-milk Greek or Icelandic yogurt
½ cup stirred tahini, thinned with a bit of water
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice plus more for serving
¼ cup minced cilantro
½ cup minced mint
2 cups arugula or a blend of baby kale and spinach
½ cup packed whole cilantro leaves
½ cup packed whole mint leaves
1 tablespoon unhulled raw sesame seeds
pinches of chili flakes, to taste—any Turkish or Syrian pepper would be good here, like Urfa, Maras or Aleppo, but regular will work, just use them sparingly!

Preheat oven to 400°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss the squash cubes in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper; arrange on 1 baking sheet in an even layer. Toss the cooked lentils with olive oil and salt and pepper and spread them on the second baking sheet. Place both trays in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are shriveled and a little bit crunchy, 10–15 minutes, and the squash cubes are blackened at the edges and soft all the way through, about 30 minutes total.

While the vegetables cook, make the toppings. Place the shaved red onion in a bowl of ice water and set aside. Stir together the yogurt, thinned tahini, garlic, lemon juice, minced cilantro and mint and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the squash and lentils are cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. On a large flat platter spread the tahini-yogurt sauce with the back of a spoon almost all the way to the edges. Toss the arugula or kale/spinach with the lentils, season with more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and pour onto the sauce. Arrange the roasted squash cubes over the lentils, drain the red onion and scatter on top, along with the whole herb leaves, sesame seeds and chili flakes. Drizzle the whole salad with more olive oil and lemon, season with salt and pepper and serve.

This recipe appeared in the Fall 2018 issue as part of a larger story on Winter Squash and Pumpkins.